A New York Times opinion column from Joe Nocera out on Saturday tells the story of last year’s Halloween Party at the law firm called Steven J. Baum, a practice outside Buffalo that the column refers to as a “foreclosure mill.” The firm thought that they would celebrate last Halloween by throwing a homeless-themed party, complete with the staff dressing costumes that made them look destitute and signs describing the various faux problems their characters had. One sign seems to read “Will Worke For Food [sic]” and photos show part of an office named “Baum Estates.”
You can see all the pictures that accompany the column here.
The pictures were sent to Nocera by a former employee of the firm. Nocera described their conversation like this:
When we spoke later, she added that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the firm’s mind-set. “There is this really cavalier attitude,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that people are going to lose their homes.” Nor does the firm try to help people get mortgage modifications; the pressure, always, is to foreclose.
Nocera also got in touch with the firm to ask about the pictures and the party, which sent him a statement and attacked the paper.
“It has been suggested that some employees dress in … attire that mocks or attempts to belittle the plight of those who have lost their homes,” the statement read. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” It described this column as “another attempt by The New York Times to attack our firm and our work.”
The column also notes that the firm has been under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office and recently paid $2 million to settle a US Department of Justice investigation.
Check out the TPM Slide Show of the festivities here.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.